Mothers whose babies were born with brain damage due to alleged medical negligence at state hospitals have urged Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to start a brain injury fund to assist victims with early intervention and improve the standard of care.
The mothers, involved in legal battles against health authorities, also called on Motsoaledi to ensure medical staff at state hospitals paid for malpractice insurance. This was so the “massive” burden of damages claims would be removed from the operational budgets of the provincial health departments.
In a memorandum, the group of moms said about 35% of the 336 malpractice cases pending against state health authorities related to babies suffering from brain damage or mental retardation due to alleged negligence during their birth. Some of the cases date back to 2000, with a spike in claims between 2010 and last year.
The mothers stressed that children born with brain injury needed early therapy intervention, including speech, occupational and physiotherapy. Although the medical expenses were ongoing, the mothers faced a health system that would not take responsibility for its malpractice, meaning court intervention was necessary.
“It is irresponsible of hospitals to let courts solve their mistakes,” the mothers said. “We need a country and a health system that takes responsibility for its actions.
“The victims in all the cases are robbed of early medical intervention for which no money can compensate.”
The mothers urged the health department to establish a special unit and fund with the aim of determining the extent of injury, pursuing internal investigation against those responsible and compensating patients.
They also called on Motsoaledi to offer support with medical bills, caregiver assistance, counselling and rehabilitation.
The mothers stressed that no one with a brain-injured child wanted to make money out of their traumatic experience, saying the most important issue for them was rehabilitation and that hospitals corrected their mistakes by providing support.
The legal battle of one of the mothers, Alice Dladla, to be compensated for her disabled son’s condition of spastic cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen during his birth at a state hospital eight years ago, started in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.